Netanyahu Hopeful as Jewish Voters Shift Further Right, Arabs More Apathetic

A firm 62% majority of Israeli voters identify as right-wing, making Israel an anomaly among liberal Western-style democracies.

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu
Happiness is and isn't what you might think
Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90

Two months to go until Israel’s next election (the fifth election in the past three years), and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is feeling hopeful as the electorate shifts even further to the Right.

Prior to the April 2019 election (the first in this present series of elections), 46 percent of Israeli voters identified as right-wing. Today, that number has grown to 62 percent.

That according to the latest survey by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).

The growth of the Right has come at the expense of both the Center and the Left, which have dropped by nine and six percentage points, respectively, during the same period.

While on the surface this looks to be good news for Netanyahu and his Likud Party, things aren’t so simple.

In all the last four elections, the various parties that make up the ideological Right have won a clear overall majority in the Knesset. But because several of those parties refuse to sit in a government headed by Netanyahu, his efforts to forge a stable right-wing government have been repeatedly thwarted.

The same is expected following the upcoming vote on November 1, unless Bibi can convince one or more of those parties to change course, or if his Likud wins far more seats than predicted.


Arab apathy

Arab voter turnout on November 1 is expected to drop to an all-time low of 39 percent amid voter fatigue and growing disillusionment with Arab political parties.

This would have the effect of amplifying the Jewish vote, which as the IDI survey showed strongly prefers the right-wing bloc.


A democratic anomaly

Israel is something of an anomaly among Western democracies. While much of Europe and North America are seeing leftward, progressive trends, Israel is becoming increasingly right-wing and conservative.

See: When Everyone’s Right-Wing, is Anyone Right-Wing?

That’s not to say there isn’t a large left-wing liberal movement in Israel. There is, but it is undoubtedly a minority in terms of voting power.

In broad strokes, this can be seen as a result of Israel acting as a melting pot for Jews from disparate backgrounds (a majority of them Middle Eastern), and the Jewish state’s geographical position between the liberal West and the conservative East.

This is a phenomenon we will be exploring in greater depth in upcoming Member articles.


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